Every time we start a new writing project, we face the same thing: a blank page. It might be a page of notebook paper, an empty sketch-book page, or a blank screen.
Sometimes a story or poem flows straight through my arm and hand onto the paper. Those are the moments when I can’t wait to get to a blank page. Sometimes when I’m revising, I get that little tingle in my fingers that tells me I’m onto something. On those days, it’s like the universe whispers in my ear, “Write faster; write faster.” Most days, though, it’s like hard slogging through soft snow. Creativity and inspiration don’t often come just because I call.
Julia Cameron says it’s important to “show up” at the page or the keyboard, whether we feel inspired or not. Believe in the process and the words will come. So here are a few ideas to keep the pen moving or the fingers dancing on the keys.
1) Read. But read with your writing in mind. Google a keyword or grab a book to research the setting of your story or the theme of your poem. Start taking down a few notes, either by hand or in the next section of your story, and let that activity flow into crafting the scene.
2) Give yourself permission to fail – leave the “product” part of it until later. As writers, we worry that we’ll end up shredding the paper for recycling (dispel that image of crumpling it up and tossing it into the garbage can!) or starting a folder labeled “Out-takes” (or worse). So face that possibility, and write anyway. Today might be the day when you find snowshoes – or skis. Only the writing can get you there.
3) Join a writers’ group. One of the best things about it is the deadline it gives you for completing that next revision, or starting a new story or novel segment.
4) Set a goal. Make it challenging, within the limits of your own lifestyle. My writing goal has changed over the years from one page a day, to 2000 words a day, to at least an hour a day. Like any goal, your writing practice goal needs re-evaluation from time to time.
I try to write every day, but if I miss a day because of family or other concerns, I remember #2 above and move on. Part of my goal today is to coach myself to remember and use my best practices. Please click “Comments” or “Read more” below and add to these thoughts with your writing goal, if you have one, or with another tip that keeps you writing.